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Delay in net billing approvals burning solar dealers

Published:Wednesday | September 25, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Jamaican solar dealers Troy Moo Young (centre) and Damian Lyn (right) learn the specifications of a solar battery from Antonio Galvez, director of sales for Latin America at Energy Systems

Damion Mitchell, Integration Editor

UTAH, United States:
Solar power dealers in Jamaica are turning up the pressure on the Government to reduce the time it takes to approve applications to sell excess energy generated to the national grid.

The power-selling initiative, called net billing, allows people generating electricity from renewable sources like solar panels or wind turbines to sell the energy to the Jamaica Public Service Company, which has a monopoly on electricity distribution.

But before net billing can happen, the Government must approve the application of the proprietor, and some operators say the wait may be as long as six months.

“Right now, there is a massive bottleneck,” said 35-year-old Troy Moo Young, the manager of Get Sol Warehouse in St Andrew. “That’s a big problem.”

According to Moo Young, the issue must be urgently addressed, as large volumes of solar energy generated in homes and offices go to waste, especially since it is very costly for people to procure batteries to store the power for later use.

Maikel Oerbekke, the director for Renewable Energy Developers, based in Montego Bay, St James, agrees.

“We need to fine-tune all that energy that flows through our lines,” he said.

Oerbekke and Moo Young are among hundreds of solar manufacturers, distributors and suppliers from across the world in Salt Lake City, United States, attending the 2019 Solar Power International trade show.

Jamaica’s Energy Minister Fayval Williams has conceded that there have been delays in approving applications for net billing and has committed to fixing it within the next six months.

“I have heard the complaints and I am taking them seriously. I can give a commitment that we will be making changes,” she told The Gleaner in Utah.

Williams said there have been complaints that the net billing application process is currently too lengthy and manual, adding that there will be considerations to make some of the steps electronic.

Unnecessary bureaucracy in net billing could threaten the Government’s drive to aggressively ramp up the production of renewable energy to meet the 2030 target of 30 per cent of energy produced in Jamaica being from renewable sources.